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What is a barre class?

22 December 2021|3 min read

Key Points

  • A barre class combines pilates and ballet techniques for a strengthening workout.
  • Barre may help with the pelvic floor as well flexibility, posture and muscle endurance. 
  • You could also try doing a barre workout at home with limited equipment.

If you’ve ever wondered what a barre class is, this article is for you. We asked Personal Trainer Gabrielle Petterwood to tell us all about this popular workout. 

“Barre is a combination of several different types of exercise. It combines elements of ballet, yoga, pilates and dance-based aerobics,” she says. 

In some barre classes, the exercises are largely performed at the barre – hence the name. Others use things like sliders or resistance bands to up the ante on the workout. Think of exercises like ballerina squats or arabesque pulses. You may feel the burn just reading the names. 

The modern version may have been around for more than 60 years, but it’s likely you’ve only heard about this dance style workout more recently. Let’s take a closer look at barre.

The benefits of barre

The question is, do barre classes work? Are the barre techniques enough to give you a workout that tones and tightens, or whatever it is you’re trying to achieve?

You know the benefits of stretching, the benefits of running and the health benefits of walking, but what are the potential benefits of barre? 

Well the truth is, very few scientific studies have been done on the health benefits of barre. But, what Gabrielle wants you to know is that barre is fun. Sometimes we’re so focused on finding fun exercises for kids that we forget to mix things up for ourselves. And when it comes to how to get motivated to exercise as you ease into fitness, fun is an important factor. 

“Barre is another style of exercise that’s fun,” explains Gabrielle, “For many people, it may be more fun to do a barre class than a generic gym class. It’s good to mix it up.”

Barre is generally low impact, so it’s suitable for most fitness levels. If you’re thinking about how to get back into going to the gym and your gym offers barre classes, they might be worth a try. 


A barre class combines pilates and ballet techniques for a strengthening workout.

The different types of barre classes

What is barre fusion? Is it different to a barre stretch class? One of the interesting things about barre is that there isn’t just one type. It’s a style that has evolved over time and now caters to a range of people. 

Barre fusion combines barre and pilates techniques with cardio exercises for a higher intensity workout. 

In a barre stretch class you might expect to focus more on stretching exercises for flexibility and toning. 

You may even be able to find barre group exercise videos online that you could do at home. 

Different studios may give their barre classes a different name or put their spin on the style. 


Barre may help with the pelvic floor as well flexibility, posture and muscle endurance.

How many calories are burned in a barre workout?

Like with any workout, the actual number of calories you burn depends on so many different factors. Just like not all functional strength training workouts or high altitude training is the same, not all barre workouts are the same.

If you wear a fitness tracker to a barre class, you’ll get a good indication of how many calories you may burn during barre.

If burning calories is your goal, don’t forget about the incidental exercise you do throughout the day.

What equipment is needed to do barre-style exercises at home?

If you’re doing barre-style exercises at home, you don’t need any fancy equipment. A chair, wall or kitchen bench at the right height may be enough. All you need to do is choose your at-home barre style exercises based on the equipment and space you have available. 


Barre is generally low impact, so it’s suitable for most fitness levels.

Do you need a yoga mat for barre?

Yoga mats may be used in some barre class formats but generally, you don’t need to bring any equipment with you.

Raising the barre

If you’re looking for a fun way to bring new and different exercises into your routine, a barre class may be worth trying. 


Gabrielle Petterwood is a Personal Trainer with a holistic approach to fitness, nourishing the body with fresh foods and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle to realise full body health.

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board December 2021.


This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.